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Letters from the Founder 𑁋 Fear + Hopelessness

Today, I woke up and immediately noticed that I didn’t feel like myself. A few seconds after opening my eyes, I started to cry. Wondering why I was here. Why did I wake up today? And why do I feel like I’m suffering?

All of these thoughts and emotions rushed through my mind after waking up on my living room couch. For several weeks I’ve slept on my couch because it sometimes feels more at home than my bedroom. As tears fell from my eyes, I looked over at my cat who seemed to be asleep. I don’t have any amazing stories about my cat cuddling with me when I’m sad — at this point, I’m not sure which of my emotions he’s most reactive to.

I had a fairly productive Saturday and Sunday (although I try not to work on the weekend) and made significant headway on a project that I’ve been working on with a few friends and former classmates since the summer of 2019. Yesterday, I sat in my apartment, working with two friends I had invited over to knock the project out. Eventually, we were on a conference call with five more individuals as we hashed out the next phase of the project. It went well, but I’m sure we all felt a little intimidated and uncomfortable — even if we didn’t admit it to one another as we brainstormed and planned for what came next.

While I do not feel that I am the head or even the person who’s spearheading this particular project, I could not deny the influence State of the Territory News and myself had on the success of it. Yesterday, simply felt good. Today does not.

Years ago, when I first began thinking about what my adult life would be, this wasn’t what I had imagined for myself. I vividly remember counting the days until my 18th birthday, so I could finally make my way out of the nest. At the time, my mom and I clashed a lot and I didn’t feel like I would belong anywhere.

My dream at the time was to be a commercial airline pilot and I just wanted my own apartment so I wouldn’t have to clean my room. Spoiler alert, my apartment is a mess!

On days like this — if I wasn’t in school — I would text my best friend Kimo and we would sit on the roof of the community center in Bovoni and stare at the stars or watch our neighborhood come alive. We would also talk about everything that bothered us. We knew that we were different and we wondered where we would be as adults.

Sitting with Kimo, usually helped me realize that I wasn’t the only person who felt hopeless or lost. Fast forward to today, and it scares me that Virgin Islanders trust me to deliver news and updates. I never imagined that I would launch anything nearly as impactful and influential as State of the Territory News.

Since launching nearly 3 years ago, I’ve given up on State of the Territory several times, simply because I didn’t like how it made me feel. I even took steps in 2018 to split up my operations, in hopes of selling the news arm of my brand one day — for my own sanity.

The Mint brand makes me feel afraid, hopeless, lost, tired, out of my element, lonely, irritated, bewildered, and most of all worthy of attention. None of these feelings feel good most days. Admittedly, I feel like an imposter. My team has learned that I am not the typical leader, often choosing to lead from behind as they bring their own ideas and visions to life.

As a rule, I don’t set deadlines for the team for their stories and I also don’t assign stories or topics to them. They set their own deadlines based on what works for them. Each member of the Mint Team is free to explore their creative side and I simply assist in keeping their content true to our online newspaper’s personality and mission. Essentially, my team can explore their independence if they choose to.

As the months have passed, I’ve been able to witness first hand the impact State of the Territory News has had on my friends, my family, my clients and organizations my team and I have decided to collaborate and partner with. And while these accomplishments are things to be proud of, each day I am plunged deeper and deeper into the emotions of fear, hopelessness and mental suffering.

My landlord regularly sends me food, treats and shows her support for me. She’s probably in her 70s or 80s and the internet isn’t something she plans to integrate into her life. She’s never read my work but knows I am a media professional. She has, however, heard me speak on the radio at least once and for the first time understood the work I often spent my days laboring over in my apartment right below her.

I can’t say that people treat me horribly, even though I’m an openly bisexual man living in the U.S. Virgin Islands. What I am struggling with is feeling as though I should be here, with all of you, adding my story to the world. On days like this, I take a step back and realize the incredible support system I have; a support system many people don’t have and spend much of their life feeling lonely and unwanted.

To my amazing team, my growing family, my incredible friends and our dedicated readers, I want to say thank you for making me feel special and worthy of the love you share with me. State of the Territory News has been a wild journey thus far and I would be honored to continue sharing and expanding my vision for news and media throughout the Virgin Islands in the coming years. 💛🗞